So I saw Paul Simon over the weekend!
As far as I’m concerned Paul Simon is on a very short list of the greatest American songwriters…greatest songwriters ever. Being roughly 15 feet away from someone like that is always quite surreal.
The show itself was mostly a quiet review of Simon’s incredible songbook. While there were nods given to his 60s work with Art Garfunkel, This show, at least in my eyes, was designed more for fans of “Paul Simon” and not just fans of “Simon and Garfunkel”. The crowd was mixed with at least three four generations of fans in attendance. Many were like me. We were raised by baby boomers who fed us Simon and Garfunkel songs which then served as a gateway drug of sorts that led us to his solo work.
Songs like “Mrs. Robinson”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “April Come She Will” (a personal favorite) and “Cecilia” eschewed and instead the audience was treated to stellar performances of “Rene’ and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War”, “Wristband”, “Question for the Angels”, and, the highlight for me, an intensely beautiful performance of “Can’t Run But”. (That’s a fan-shot video from a May performance in Vancouver)
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and now Paul Simon. Those are some of the greatest songwriters ever born in the United States.
On to the local scene!
Anyone that knows me knows of my shameless fanboy(-ness? –hood? –tism?) of Jealous Creatures‘ Josh Barry. I’ll tell a funny story and then I want to brag about his new endeavor, Zero Gravity Posters & Flyers.
I’ve known Josh since we were kids. He and his buddy Derek had more than a bit of fun ribbing on me and my buddy Steven. They were two years ahead of us so of course it was their duty.
It was during these tender years of my youth that I was christened with a nickname that follows me to this day. One of our favorite movies was Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield as Thornton Melon who joins his son Jason in college. That sets the scene.
One day, Steven (Josh’s brother for the record) and I were cleaning out our locker when Josh and Derek walked up. This is what ensued:
Josh: Come on STEVen. We gotta go. You can make your locker pretty later.
Steven: (heavy sign) Give me a minute damn it.
Derek: Hey! Who’s your little friend Stevie?!
Steven: (to me) just ignore him man. Don’t say anything. It will just get worse.
Derek: Awww…that’s no way to talk to me. What’s his NAME?!
Steven: Seriously, don’t say anything to him.
Derek: You can’t ignore me Stevie. I’ll find out you know. (to me) What’s your name!?!
Steven: Alright FINE. His name is Jason. Jason. His name is Jason. OK?! Leave us alone.
Derek: Jason. Hmm….Jason. (glances at Josh and they share a knowing smirk that I would come to know meant nothing good would come)
Derek: Jasooooooooon…..Melon. MELON. Jassssssooooooon MELLLLOOOON.
And so it began. And so it continues to be.
A few weeks later I had the temerity of trying to throw a little of Derek’s medicine back at him by saying “OH YEAH!? If I’m Jason Melon doesn’t that make you Derek LUTZ?!” (Melon’s best friend portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. It’s one of his finest roles I might add.)
With cat-light reflexes and the strength of a stampede of elephants, Derek launched me at least 75 feet in the air and through a brick wall….or shoved me against a locker. It’s hard to remember. It’s all such a blur.
The fact is, from the time I met him going to over to his and Steven’s house to play video games, Josh became a rock star to me….his and Derek’s bit of ribbing notwithstanding.
He had this “cool” factor to him. He was always incredibly quiet but never seemed shy to me. He seemed like he just didn’t care to speak…unless there was something important to say. He takes this very same philosophy with him to his music and we should all strive for this approach in our own.
He was the first musician and music connoisseur I’d ever met. He had a cool pickup truck and his mom made him drive Steven and I to school now and again. He hated having to be our chauffeur.
His room was something out of a movie: silver drum set taking up most of it with KISS posters covering the walls. As well-versed in classic rock and early punk as anyone you will ever meet, he kept Steven and I well-fed with nothing but the best. Through him I developed my appreciation for bands like the Ramones, Blondie, DEVO, and Talking Heads.
He would go on these vacations to see his and Steven’s cousin and come back with shoe boxes of cassettes…Bad Brains, the Descendents, Misfits, and Dead Kennedys. Whether it was movies or comic books or bands, Josh seemed to know about it before it was the cool thing and that meant being friends with his brother Steven meant having a direct line to the source of Cool.
This is all to say nothing of him being one of Houston’s finest drummers playing in some of Houston’s coolest bands.
And so all that brings me to Zero Gravity Posters & Flyers.
I love concert posters.
I love the ones that hung on walls and telephone poles advertising Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane or Strawberry Alarm Clock. I love the ones that were seen throughout the years at CBGB the Talking Heads and Blondie. I drool over the Austin ones for Stevie Ray Vaughan at Antone’s or the historic shows from the era’s greatest groups over at the Paramount.
I also love comic books, pulp movies, and horror films from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.
What do you get when you throw all that together? You get Zero Gravity Posters & Flyers.
Josh has long been doing graphic artwork and his posters bring together his wide influences together in a truly unique style that is all his own. Committed to his fellow artists, he strives to provide professional and memorable advertising at affordable prices. You’ll not find a better artist in Houston to work on your next project. He approaches his graphic art as he does his music, with a reverence for the medium, a unique sense of humor, and a skill seldom found.
Check him out.
Lastly let me mention one of the coolest bands in Houston: Tightn’ Up!
I stumbled upon Tightn’ Up! last year and man, my eyes have heard The Glory. A more authentic and dynamic funk and soul outfit you will not find. They treat the rich history and heritage of their genre with a tender and enthusiastic respect while still carving out their own space to add a bit of unique flavor.
This is another one of those bands that you just have to check out. Even the staunchest punk rocker or indie devotee will find it impossible to resist digging this group. And if that’s not enough for you, Michael Hatter who holds down one of the tightest rhythms in town, is also a licensed massage therapist with an office of Richmond between Edloe and Buffalo Speedway. I’ve been to see him and can say he’s the best I’ve worked with. Why go to a chain massage joint when you can see an independent business owner who cares deeply about his patients’ wellness AND lays a beat tighter and nastier than anyone you’ll ever meet?
You can check out Tightn’ Up! when they perform on June 10th, as part of the Canned Acoustica series at Discovery Green.
If it’s just too hot to handle the Texas heat and the band’s hot playing then they’ll be laying it down at the Continental Club on June 30th on a bill that joins them with Roxy Roca.
Their newest album is out now so cruise over their website for details on that, to read far better pieces singing their praise, and for their full schedule of dates.
That’s it for today. You guys have a great week.
Be Well and Kind,